Hits and myths: Do cold hands indicate your body temperature?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 9:55am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 9:55am

Are your hands a good indicator of your body temperature?

The straight answer: No

The facts: it's not uncommon for your hands to feel cold when the rest of your body does not. Many people seem to always have cold hands - no matter what the temperature outside is.

But just because your palms feel like ice, it does not mean that your body temperature is low too. Hand temperature is not an accurate indicator of your body's internal temperature.

Dr Chan Chau-shing, a general practitioner and a specialist in emergency medicine from Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital, says cold hands are just the result of how heat is circulated around your body, but adds that "cold" is a subjective feeling.

It's also normal for your body to lose heat through the surrounding environment, but this also depends on external factors such as the temperature, wind chill and humidity.

Your rectal or vaginal temperature is the most reliable indicator of your core body temperature, says Chan.

The commonly accepted average or "normal" core body temperature, when taken internally, is 37 degrees Celsius.

If your hands are perpetually cold, it might point to poor circulation in your extremities - your hands, feet, fingers and toes.

Chan says this happens when your body conserves heat mostly in the core (in response to cold weather), leading to a constriction of your peripheral blood vessels.

If you're severely dehydrated, it could also be a case of your body going into "shock".

Or, it could be peripheral blood vessel disorder, as is seen in smokers and in people with high cholesterol, diabetes and connective tissue disorder.

If you suspect your peripheral circulation is impaired, Chan advises to seek medical help to find out why and treat the problem.